It is impossible to know the Saviour without longing to make Him known to others. His unspeakable love claims the utmost devotion of every ransomed heart, and kindles a desire to make Him known far and wide among the sinners for whom He died. Thus the woman of Sychar cannot rest until she has made an appeal to the people of her city: “Come, see a man who told me all things I had ever done: is not he the Christ?” (John 4: 29). Again, Andrew has no sooner found the Messiah than he runs for his brother Peter to share the blessing (see John 1: 41). Similarly, not long after Philip has beheld the beauty of Christ he is found bringing Nathanael to the Saviour (see John 1: 45).
I appeal to every believing heart: isn’t this your cherished desire? Haven’t you deep longings to make known your Saviour’s name in all its living power? Wouldn’t you be delighted to see multitudes at His feet, joyful in His salvation and rapturous with His praise? Doesn’t your spirit leap with joy at the thought? Sometimes God’s witnesses were impelled only by a command from without (see Jonah 1: 2), but in the genuine Christian there is also a constraint of love within (see 2 Cor. 5: 14). Jonah wasn’t interested in the plight of the Ninevites before a holy God––our hearts should go out in love to every unsaved soul.
It is our blessed privilege to sound out the word of the Lord (see 1 Thess. 1: 8) and to hold forth the word of life (see Phil. 2: 16). However, this demands a path of decision and self–denial from which our hearts often shrink, and thus the desire to speak of Christ is nipped in the bud. The sword of violent persecution is sheathed in many parts of the world these days, but Satan has found a more potent means of silencing our lips in the fear of misapprehension and ridicule. How often “It will be thought out of place” and “They will think me odd and peculiar” have closed our mouths! Shame on our coward hearts! Let us cry to the Lord that we may speak “the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4: 31). It was the earnest desire of the apostle that he might open his mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the glad tidings: “that I may be bold in it as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6: 20). This spiritual courage is what we need. Not the forward flippancy of the flesh that irritates without convicting, but the calm assertiveness of one who can say ‘I have a message from God’.
Nor let us be discouraged by the consciousness of our own weakness––rather let us glory in it as that which makes room for Christ’s power. How sad that we should be considering difficulties while souls are perishing all around us! These things would never have a place in our minds if self was not before us instead of Christ. Why should we calculate our abilities and resources, as if we were sent out to war in our own strength? Haven’t we received the Holy Spirit to empower us to be witnesses to Christ? Then let us lay aside indifference and slothfulness, and be like one who said “For this cause I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which [is] in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2: 10).
The sovereignty of God in grace was not distorted by the apostle into an excuse for idleness and indifference, but instead formed the spring of an energy in service which never tired. God’s sovereignty is a blessed fact pregnant with encouragement to every worker in the Gospel field. To know that there are elect souls that God will bless, and that if we do not seek them out God will send somebody else to do it, ought to fill our hearts with prayer that we may be guided to the spot where we shall find them.
Oh brethren, this is a day of good tidings––let us not hold our peace! May we arise to “do [the] work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4: 5), and imitate the blessed example of those believers who “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8: 4 AV). Let us not attempt to cast off the responsibility of this great privilege and ask in guilty indifference “am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4: 9). All of us need to consider those solemn and striking words in Proverbs 24: “Deliver them that are taken forth unto death, and withdraw not from them that stagger to slaughter. If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not, will not he that weigheth the hearts consider it? And he that preserveth thy soul, he knoweth it; and he rendereth to man according to his work” (v 11, 12).
The word to us all then would be: “So then, my beloved brethren, be firm, immovable, abounding always in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in [the] Lord” (1 Cor. 15: 58). Remember that he that “goeth forth and weepeth, bearing seed for scattering; he cometh again with rejoicing, bearing his sheaves” (Ps. 126: 6). However, we cannot be too solemnly reminded that gospel testimony in conjunction with a worldly walk has a terribly hardening effect on sinners. If like Lot we live near the world and like the world, the world soon comes to the conclusion that there is not much in Christianity after all. Small wonder that both loving invitations and solemn warnings alike fail to awaken souls when they come from those who are identified with the world! In Lot’s case “he was as if he jested, in the sight of his sons–in–law” (Gen. 19: 14). It is the one who comes to the world as Jonah went to Nineveh––out of the jaws of death, in resurrection power, a man of another sphere, without a single moral link with the scene against which he announced judgment––whose testimony produces a mighty result. May there be a complete divorce between us and the ways of the world, and in the power of this Nazariteship may we bear witness to sinners of redemption accomplished and judgement approaching.